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Amazon Reviews: Worth Reading or Worthless?

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I have been having problems with my rheumatoid arthritis lately whereby the inflammation and stiffness have started attacking my neck in no uncertain terms. Because of this, I have been unable to use my binoculars on walks in my local country park as they are just too heavy, and I don't really want to use a binocular harness where the binoculars are carried on the front of the body. In view of all this, I decided to invest in a pair of inexpensive compact binoculars that would tide me over until my neck problem subsides - with my consultant rheumatologist soon to issue a prescription for a short course of steroids.

I spent a good deal of time checking Amazon and found a pair of compact binoculars that had a multitude of good ratings and reviews, so I ordered a pair. They turned out to be utterly useless; even the eyecups that were meant roll down for spectacle wearers did no such thing, and the build quality was awful. I immediately returned the binoculars to Amazon and subsequently chose another pair, somewhat more expensive and once again with many good reviews and an excellent rating of excellent. These binoculars were quite well built but the optical quality was poor even for cheap binoculars - Optical distortion was impossible to ignore and focus was only possible in a small central area of vision. Once again, I sent the binoculars back and got a refund on my Amazon account. I have just ordered another pair - in a third attempt to get the product I need, and yes, these binoculars also have many ecstatic reviews and an excellent rating. 

Having gone through all this just to get a reasonably decent pair of inexpensive compact binoculars, I am wondering whether the reviews and ratings on Amazon are of any use whatsoever in choosing a particular product. I also don't understand why, when the reviewmeta website removes all the suspicious Amazon reviews from a product on sale, the rating on the product seems to often remain virtually unchanged.  The binoculars I have on order have a 4.7 Amazon rating which remains at 4.7 after reviewmeta has done its analysis and removed suspicious reviews. 

I am not an expert in how all this reviewing and rating is put together and then subsequently analysed by sites that are there to protect one from unfairly positive reviews and ratings, but I would be most interested to hear how other Forum members approach reviews on sales sites when buying things. In the case of watches, I feel more confident in my own research and opinion, but with something like binoculars I feel a bit vulnerable and prone to take heed of the reviews, especially on Amazon where the reviews are often many and sometimes given the accolade of "verified purchaser."

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You don't have to rely on Amazon reviews.  Just type in the name and model number of the binoculars followed by "reviews" and you will be directed to hundreds of other alternatives.  Also worth checking YouTube videos as well, almost EVERYTHING you can possibly imagine has been reviewed by someone, somewhere on t'internet, and they quite often offer unbiased comments.

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As far as binoculars go, a quick look through both Amazon and eBay shows a lot of the decent "budget" stuff missing. Possibly due to the current world situation. Stock is running low, and I notice a lot of weird named stuff. I don't pay any attention to Amazon reviews. Gone are the days when you could buy excellent Soviet/East German 7 x 50's or 8 x 30's sub £25. I've still got mine and wouldn't part with them. I've got a couple of sets of expensive roof prism binoculars, but for clarity, my old Zenit 7x 50's are still the best for me.

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51 minutes ago, WRENCH said:

As far as binoculars go, a quick look through both Amazon and eBay shows a lot of the decent "budget" stuff missing. Possibly due to the current world situation. Stock is running low, and I notice a lot of weird named stuff.

It’s all the folk buying bins to spy on their neighbours...

I read the reviews but don’t put any weight on them. If it’s something I want opinions on, I google the item as Davey said and use review sites, magazines etc. I also tend to get stuff I know can be returned easily. 

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4 hours ago, Davey P said:

You don't have to rely on Amazon reviews.  Just type in the name and model number of the binoculars followed by "reviews" and you will be directed to hundreds of other alternatives.  Also worth checking YouTube videos as well, almost EVERYTHING you can possibly imagine has been reviewed by someone, somewhere on t'internet, and they quite often offer unbiased comments.

This is what I do ^^

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I watched "The Truth About Amazon" recently on channel 4. New documentary only came out about a month ago i think. Quite interesting and definitely brings reviews into question. I have to admit i definitely shop based on reviews for most products, i tend to think its less risky following the "wisdom of the crowd", i dont have to be the ginnea pig for a product.

https://www.channel4.com/programmes/the-truth-about-amazon

My girlfirend also works in marketing and ecommerce. I hear lots of interesting stuff from her too. A lot of review sites have a filtering stage where the review has to be approved. This is framed as a "safety" thing whereby they can stop anything offensive, or anything containing personal info from being put online on the reviews section. But in reality it seems some companies just use it to filter out bad reviews, or at least hold them off until they can resolve them with the customer.

As long as its not able to be abused too much, i do like the idea that the people have the power in a sense. Companies cant get away with screwing customers as easily.

 

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honour a good test would be leave your own reviews on the returned items ( if you can ?) , being honest and highlighting the poor issues, and see if that get published ?

deano

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I agree that Amazon reviews are almost useless now. I often only use them to look at the negative reviews and try and read between the lines to see if there is a genuine problem - for example, I discount any one ow two star reviews where the reviewer is complaining that the items didn't come with batteries or was a shade that didn't match their hat.

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Many thanks everyone!:thumbsup:

The cumulative wisdom of all the posts on this thread has clarified things greatly. I shall know how to proceed from here, with sensible caution and more knowledge about buying things online that I am not sure of.:biggrin:

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I'd go for Amazon reviews before something like Trustpilot, which is sold to companies as a way of enhancing their brand.

One of the problems on Amazon is people leave a glowing review before they've really had a chance to use the product.

I don't take much notice of the score. I look at negative reviews and if there's a lot, all highlighting similar problems, I look elsewhere. If it passed that test, then do the positive reviews have a level of detail that suggests the buyer had actually used it for some time.

Things to watch out for - are there more negative reviews recently, suggesting the quality had been reduced. 

Also, some review pages cover several versions of the product, or even different products from the same seller, so some of the reviews may have little or nothing to do with the product you're interested in.

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Some Amazon reviews are quite funny (admittedly, useless for a serious comparison)...a couple of the most famous are the 'Veet hair removal cream for men' reviews, and the 'Sugar free Gummi bear' ones. These are genuine Amazon reviews, and shows that some people at least have a great sense of humour.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/review/R3GDDEL1SC1QQ5

https://www.amazon.com/Haribo-SUGAR-Classic-Gummi-Bears/product-reviews/B006J1FBLM

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